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Eddy Cue: Apple Maps debacle led to release of public betas

In an interview with Fast Company, Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue admitted that the company’s embarrassment over its dismal Maps rollout directly led to its offering of public betas today. When the Maps app debuted in 2012 with bridges plunging into rivers, shopping malls marked as hospitals, and airport runways labeled as navigable roads, Apple went into crisis mode. “We had completely underestimated the product, the complexity of it. All the roads are known, come on! All the restaurants are known, there’s Yelp and OpenTable, they have all the addresses,” Cue said. “The mail arrives. FedEx arrives. You know, how hard is this?”

New photo leaks hint at black iPhone 7

New leaked photos of black SIM card trays seem to suggest that Apple’s new iPhone 7 will include a black color option. The two photos, posted on Twitter by Steve Hemmerstoffer of French site NowhereElse, show black trays alongside others that are silver and rose gold. The lack of a space gray tray alongside the new black version lends some credibility to previous rumors that a possible space gray replacement would be will be a “much darker color,” but the lack of gold trays in the photos could also just mean that both gold and space gray trays are among those that belong in the empty spaces.

Report: Two new versions of Apple Watch coming this year

In a note to investors, well-connected KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple has plans to launch two versions of the Apple Watch this year. One will be a minor update of the current Apple Watch model, sporting the same general design, but with improved internal components and better waterproofing. The other, referred to as “Apple Watch 2,” will also share a similar outward design, but will boast a higher capacity battery, GPS radio, and a barometer for improved geolocation capabilities.

Incipio acquires Griffin Technology

Incipio Group has announced the acquisition of Griffin Technology, the latest in a series of acquisitions that have recently included Skullcandy, Clamcase, Incase, and Braven. “Griffin has a 25 year history of designing, manufacturing and distributing iconic mobile accessories,” stated Andy Fathollahi, Founder and CEO of Incipio Group. “As part of Incipio Group, Griffin strengthens our product development and manufacturing capabilities, complements our existing product lines in rugged cases, power and connectivity, and allows our brands to reach a broader domestic and international audience through enhanced distribution in the business-to-business,  enterprise and education verticals.” Griffin will continue as a stand-alone brand and retain its global headquarters in Nashville. Other terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Apple bug bounty program offers up to $200K for security vulnerability discoveries

At this week’s Black Hat security conference, Apple’s head of security engineering and architecture, Ivan Krstic, announced that the company will begin offering cash bounties of up to $200,000 to security researchers who discover vulnerabilities in the company’s products, TechCrunch reports. While companies such as Google and Microsoft have long offered similar programs to encourage hackers to find and disclose vulnerabilities, Apple has traditionally remained a holdout, despite the strong emphasis that the company places on security — particularly in an era when solutions like Apple Pay, HomeKit, and HealthKit are storing more and more crucial data on user’s iOS devices and in Apple’s cloud.

Report: Apple developing custom low-power Bluetooth earbuds

Apple has been working for the past few years on developing a custom low-power Bluetooth radio chip for wireless earbuds, according to a new report in Forbes. The report notes that Apple could launch a set of Bluetooth earbuds as soon as September alongside the new iPhone model, which is expected to omit the 3.5mm headphone jack found on prior models. Recent leaks have suggested that Apple will bundle either Lightning EarPods or a Lightning audio adapter in with the next-generation iPhone models. Low-power Bluetooth headphones could provide another alternative — although it seems likely that such earphones would be sold as a separate option rather than being included in the package.

Report: Apple developing digital TV guide

Apple is working on developing an enhanced digital TV guide service for its Apple TV, according to a new report from Re/code. According to industry sources cited by the report, Apple has been talking to TV programmers and other video companies about a solution that works not only on the Apple TV, but on other Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad. The new service appears to be an expansion of its Universal Search debuted on the fourth-generation Apple TV, letting users see what kind of programming is available in video apps such as HBO, Netflix, and ESPN, and to access shows and movies with a single click.

Apple releases iOS 9.3.4 ‘security update’

Apple has released iOS 9.3.4, a minor update that comes a little more than two weeks following the release of iOS 9.3.3, and purports to fix at least one security issue with the release notes merely describing it as “an important security update” that is recommended for all iOS 9 users. With iOS 10 expected to debut in the next six to eight weeks, future iOS 9 updates will likely be limited to security patches such as these to accommodate older devices incapable of being updated to iOS 10.

Group of industry-leading design professionals file Amicus brief supporting Apple in Samsung case

A group of over 100 leading industrial design professionals and educators have filed an Amicus brief supporting Apple’s side in its long running design patent case with Samsung, a battle that began with a 2012 jury verdict in which Apple was initially awarded $930 million in damages as a result of Samsung’s copying of Apple’s industrial designs, before a number of other developments allowed the case to continue on without an end in sight.

As Congress correctly recognized, ‘it is the design that sells’ the product and ‘makes it possible to realize any profit at all.’

In the Amicus brief filed today, a group of notable design experts — which include such names as Braun’s Dieter Rams, Microsoft’s Executive Creative Director Raymond Riley, Bentley’s Director of Design Stefan Hans Sielaff, and even Alexander Wang and Calvin Klein, among dozens of others across the automotive, technology, fashion, and food industries — maintains that the industrial design of a product is in fact the most important factor that drives the sales of the product, supporting the original court and jury’s award that awarded the total profits to Apple from the sale of Samsung’s infringing smartphones, based on the fact that Samsung copied Apple’s designs and profited from them by selling more smartphones.

Apple Music for Android leaves beta status

Almost nine months following its initial beta release on the Google Play Store, Apple’s Apple Music app for Android devices has officially dropped the “beta” tag with an update that appeared late yesterday. Although the app remained in beta status up until now, Apple continued to make improvements to the Apple Music experience on Android, adding support for a home screen widget for controlling playback, allowing the ability to save music to SD card storage, and support for Music Videos and purchasing of Family Plan subscriptions from within the app. In addition to removing the beta status, the latest update also adds equalizer settings and “a variety of performance, playback, and stability improvements.”

App Store sees record-breaking month in July

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced via Twitter yesterday that July set a new record for App Store sales, with the “highest-ever monthly billings and money paid to developers.” In a subsequent tweet, Cook went on to say that App Store developers have now collectively earned a total of over $50 billion over the past eight years that the App Store has been in operation.

Last month during the company’s Q3 2016 conference call, Cook revealed that the App Store had reached its highest revenue ever, and that Apple also set a new record for the average amount spent per customer on the App Store. During the same call, Cook went on to say that Apple expects its services revenue to continue to grow, which will be driven largely by App Sales, and that he expects it to be the size of a Fortune 100 company by itself by this time next year.

Apple releases third annual diversity report

Apple has released its third annual diversity report, providing an outline of the company’s efforts toward employment equality in the workplace. The latest data shows that Apple has a current workforce made up of 32 percent women and 22 percent minorities, and 37 percent of new hires globally over the past year were female and 27 percent were from minorities underrepresented in the U.S. Minorities made up 54 percent of new hires by Apple in the U.S. over the past year. This year’s report also includes a section addressing pay equity, stating that Apple reviewed its compensation for U.S. employees, closing any gaps that it found in order to achieve full pay equity in the U.S. The report states that Apple will continue to analyze salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all employees worldwide to ensure that the company maintains pay equity across the board.

Apple countersues Caltech over Wi-Fi patents

Apple and Broadcom have countersued the California Institute of Technology, claiming that the school’s Wi-Fi patents should be invalidated, MacRumors reports. Caltech’s original lawsuit claims Broadcom’s chips—used in several Apple devices—infringe on four of the school’s patents related to improvements in Wi-Fi standards. Apple is arguing that Caltech filing its lawsuit more than six years after publication of the 802.11n wireless standard makes it ineligible to collect damages. The company also pointed out that Caltech doesn’t make, use or sell any product that makes use of the patents.

Apple Music launches in Israel, adds Bloomberg Radio

Apple has expanded Apple Music into Israel, letting customers there sign up for the standard three-month free trial, 9to5Mac reports. Apple’s regional website still lists the service as “coming soon,” but Israeli users have reported being able to enroll in the service. The price per month for an individual plan in Israel after the free trial expires works out to roughly $5.20 in U.S. dollars, well below the $10 U.S. users currently pay. In other Apple Music news, the service has added Bloomberg Radio to all countries where the streaming service is supported. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day and provides U.S. and international news along with updates on the financial markets.

Apple debuts Smart Keyboard in new languages

Apple’s Smart Keyboard for both 9.7” and 12.9” iPad Pro models is now available in several new languages. Apple’s websites in regions where the new keyboard options are available allow users to select keyboards configured for Arabic, British English, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean and other languages. The rollout seems to have been done by region, so the British English model is available on Apple’s United Kingdom-based site and the Arabic option is listed on Apple United Arab Emirates site. So far, sites in Canada and the United States only show the standard English option as available for sale and Apple Stores aren’t offering the ability to order any of the specialized models.

Apple releases third iOS 10 public beta

Apple has released the third public beta of iOS 10 through its Apple Software Beta Program. Corresponding to the fourth beta released to developers earlier this week, the latest public beta continues enhancements to Music, Maps, Messages, and News. The latest version also features updated emoji characters first revealed yesterday, including Apple’s replacement of the gun emoji with a water gun. Users who have already signed up for the Apple Software Beta Program should be able to log in and download the new versions now; users who haven’t signed up can do so at the same site.

Apple settles lawsuit over streaming patents

Kudelski Group, owners of software company OpenTV, has announced a deal to settle a legal fight over patents with Apple. In March, Kudelski Group won a German lawsuit against Apple over streaming technology used in iOS, OS X, the App Store, iTunes and on Apple TV, with similar lawsuits pending in the United States. In today’s announcement, Kudelski Group said it has reached a “comprehensive patent license agreement with Apple” and agreed to dismss all pending litigation over patents. Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the story and financial terms weren’t disclosed. Under the German ruling, Apple was barred from selling products that used the streaming software covered under the five OpenTV patents, but it’s not clear if the new settlement resolves that issue as well. [via 9to5Mac]

Apple releases iTunes 12.4.3 to fix playlist sync bug

Only two weeks after the release of iTunes 12.4.2, Apple has released iTunes 12.4.3, a minor update intended to address a specific bug that caused changes made to playlists on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to not synchronize back to iTunes. Earlier this month, iTunes 12.5 also began appearing for users running the macOS Sierra developer and public betas, appearing mostly to add support for optimization features in macOS Sierra and Apple Music features in iOS 10; it’s unclear if the playlist syncing bug has been fixed in the iTunes 12.5 betas or not.

Cyclist’s iPhone catches fire after fall

A man was severely burned when his iPhone exploded after a minor fall on his bike, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. Gareth Clear said the phone was in his back pocket when he took a tumble off his bike, then burst into flames when he fell on top of it. “I just saw smoke coming out of my back pocket…and then all of a sudden I felt this surging pain,” he said. “I just remember looking at my leg and I had this black discharge all down my leg and this smell of phosphorus​.” Gareth sustained third-degree burns to his leg that required a skin graft.

Frank Ocean’s new album to launch as Apple Music exclusive

Frank Ocean’s next album, “Boys Don’t Cry,” is set to be released Friday as an Apple Music exclusive, The New York Times reports. A person with knowledge of the release said a major video will be released simultaneously, as well as an accompanying book also titled, “Boys Don’t Cry” that will be distributed through Apple stores. The album is expected to remain an Apple Music exclusive for two weeks before becoming available on other platforms. Ocean’s label, Def Jam, declined to comment, but on Monday a mysterious video appeared on a website connected to the album, showing a pair of workbenches in an empty room. Director Francisco Soriano took credit for the video in an Instagram post that was subsequently deleted, but viewers noted an Apple Music watermark on the feed. Today Ocean added a photo of himself next to two stacks of books, each with a different cover labeled “Boys Don’t Cry” and the caption, “I got two versions. I got twoooo versions.”

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